We are a big hunting family. My family never hunted, but The Hubs’ family always did. Ever since we were married Picture of deer with "how to include hunting in your self reliance efforts"at a very young age, we have gone hunting as a family. Hunting is a wonderful way of increasing your self reliance. And I have embraced it!

Over the years, we have put thousands of pounds of meat in the freezer through our hunting efforts. It feels good putting away healthy, clean meat for our family to eat. While I understand that not everyone agrees with hunting, it is important to know that we are ethical hunters.

But how can hunting can help support your self reliance efforts? I’m so glad you asked!

Hunting provides clean, delicious meat

Hunting is a great way to supplement your self reliance efforts. You can include this in your plan to raise a year’s worth of meat. And hunting can help you overcome some shortfalls in your plans for self reliance.

Wild game is the best meat out there. People with high blood pressure can typically eat wild game, while their doctors typically tell them to avoid red meat. Deer and elk meat is high in protein, and low in fat. Because their diet consists of only what God gives them, there are no chemicals affecting the quality of the meat.

Elk meat is my favorite kind of steak. It is moist when cooked properly, and has a great flavor. Elk meat is usually referred to as a more gamey flavored meat, but I haven’t found that to always be the case. Season it with a good steak seasoning, throw it on the grill, and don’t cook it too long. Voila – a delicious steak for dinner!

Deer meat is a little drier and different tasting to me. It is still delicious, but needs a little more special preparation. You can soak meat in milk before cooking, or in Italian salad dressing. This helps pull some of the gameyness out of it. Gameyness – is that even a word?? I think so. I’m going to run with it.

In my state, hunters under the age of 18 can harvest a doe (female deer). Doe meat is more tender and delicate tasting than buck meat. We actually prefer it. Does might typically not get as big as bucks, but they still can provide a good amount of meat.

Buck standing in snowy field

Ethical hunting is part of a self reliant lifestyle

It’s important to note that we only endorse ethical hunting. Take a Hunter’s Education course, and follow all of your state’s laws on harvesting wild game. Don’t hunt for trophies, hunt for the meat. While it might be an ego-boost to get an animal with big antlers, you can’t eat the antlers!

To really fit into a self reliant lifestyle, hunters should try to use as much of the animals as possible. Tan the hide, and make bone broth out of the bones (it’s delicious!). Save and use the liver and heart. A lot of people don’t like liver, but for us, the liver is a great reward for a successful harvest.

Elk standing in field

Hunting is an inexpensive source of meat

Hunting is one of the most cost-efficient ways of providing meat for your family. Especially if you butcher and process it yourself! It really only takes a little bit of money for your hunting license, your tags, some gas, and a little food for yourself.

Of course, hunting isn’t a guaranteed way of putting meat on the table. If you don’t have a successful hunt, you might waste the money you spent trying to get your animal. But if you have fun while you’re at it, and enjoying nature to its fullest, it’s not really a waste.

Hunting requires NO land of your own. You can live in an apartment and still harvest plenty of meat for your family. You don’t have to pay to purchase the animal, don’t have to pay for feed, don’t have to spend time caring for the animal. It’s an excellent way of getting inexpensive meat, even if you don’t have a way of raising animals yourself.

Supplies needed for a hunt

There are a few things that you need for a successful hunting trip, but this will also depend on how long you plan on hunting.

    • Rifle (you already have one of these, right?)
    • Ammunition
    • Tent, camper, or vehicle to sleep in for overnight trips
    • Food for yourself
    • Water to stay hydrated
    • Snacks for the trail
    • Hunting backpack
    • Knife
    • Matches or lighter
    • Emergency supplies
    • Flashlight
    • Binoculars (not necessary, but helpful)

Once you have these items, it will only cost you your hunting license, tags, some gas money to get to your destination, and a little for food and snacks. We have harvested and processed a deer for as little as $50.

Hunting backpack with emergency supplies

Preparing for your hunt

Make sure you read up on your state’s hunting regulations. Part of ethical hunting is legal hunting. There may be areas that you aren’t allowed to hunt in at different times.

Purchase your hunting license if you haven’t already done so, and your tags. You will need a different tag for different animals that you are wanting to hunt.

Make sure your rifle is sighted in, and you know how to use it properly. You want to be able to shoot what you are aiming at. This ensures a clean kill, makes a painless death for the animal, and raises the chances of you actually bringing meat home.

Pack your hunting backpack with your emergency supplies. Please make sure you are prepared for a few emergency situations. You don’t want to get lost and have nothing with you to survive!

Gas up your vehicle and head for the hills!

Large group of elk

The hunt

For a successful hunt, you need to get off the road. Animals don’t like being seen, so they typically stay away from major roads. While it is entirely possible to find a few animals along the road, it is much better practice to get off the roads.

Deer and elk are usually up walking and browsing around in the morning, just after sunrise, and in the evening, just before dusk. If it’s raining, they will be laying down under some dense brush. If there was a bright, full moon the night before, they may skip their breakfast, as they may have been up part of the night eating.

These big game animals will usually be bedded down in the middle of the day. That’s the perfect time to hang out at camp, eat, and maybe even take a nap. You’ll want to be refreshed and energized before the evening hunt.

Bringing home your harvest

Some hunters prefer to de-bone their animals up in the woods, so they are only bringing the meat home. Others like to field-dress the animal, let it hang, and take it home whole. Either way is fine, but if you de-bone up in the mountains, you won’t have the bones to make bone broth with. But you’ll also have less animal products to dispose of when you get home.

It’s best to cover up your harvest during transport, to avoid offending non-hunters. Not everyone wants to see a deer head hanging out of a truck bed!

Game bags are helpful, especially if you are de-boning the animal up in the mountains. They help keep flies, insects, and dirt off the meat.

Make sure you tag your game right after your harvest. You don’t want to be accused of taking an animal without tagging it!

Hunting can be a fun family experience

I’ve always loved taking my kids hunting. Even now that they are grown, I enjoy making a family vacation out of it. We are actually going on a week-long elk hunt this week! It will be a fun bonding experience with The Hubs, my grown kids, and my grandkids.

If your kids are at a tender age, they might be uncomfortable or scared to see a dead animal. You might want to take them for a little hike while dad does the “dirty” work of cleaning the animal. But if they’re okay with it, and you’re okay with it, there’s nothing wrong with the kids seeing a harvested animal. You do you!

Father and son hunting on a dirt road

Are you going to include hunting in your self reliance efforts?

I hope I’ve given you some valuable tips on including hunting in your self reliance efforts. Are you going to try it? Or do you already hunt? Please share in the comments!

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This post may be shared on Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog HopSimple Homestead Blog HopFarm Fresh Tuesday, and Old Paths to New Homesteading & Self-Reliant Living.


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